Friday, January 26, 2007

Old West shootout focus of Florence historic home tour

[Source: Kristi Eaton, Arizona Republic] -- Florence's western heritage is the focus of this year's annual historic home tour. One Straight Shootin' Home Tour pays homage to the 1888 Tunnel Saloon shootout between two former lawmen, said Jennifer Evans, manager of the Florence Main Street Program. The event will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 10. "We use themes to try to highlight the different aspects of our history," she said.

According to the stories, the shootout between ex-sheriff Pete Gabriel and his former deputy Joe Phy started in what was then the Tunnel Saloon and ended in Main Street. Gabriel survived and Phy died a few hours later. The self-guided two-hour walking tour will take participants throughout the town as they visit some of the oldest homes and commercial buildings, including what was Florence's first general merchandise store. John Swearengin, Florence's unofficial historian, will also offer a guided walking tour.

Evans said she is still finalizing which homes and buildings will be a part of this year's tour. She said the Pinal County Historical Society Museum will host a Chautauqua on John P. Clum, who published the first newspaper in Florence in 1879. Admission is $10 in advance, or $12 the day of the event. Children under 18 are admitted free. Proceeds go to the Florence Main Street Program.